UQ vets help three-legged Ziggy back on his paws

The future seems bright for Ziggy the three-legged wonder dog, after specialist surgery at the University of Queensland’s Veterinary Medical Centre at Gatton.

Thanks to the care and dedication of his owners, UQ veterinary staff and students, Ziggy is a poster dog for success in the face of adversity.

 UQ Veterinary School
UQ PhD students Rebecca Colvin and Glenn Althor with Ziggy (Photo credit: UQ)

Now 2 years old, the border collie with a very sweet disposition was found abandoned in 2014 while still a small puppy. His front right leg was broken and healing incorrectly, requiring amputation.

UQ PhD students Rebecca Colvin and Glenn Althor fell in love with the brave little dog and adopted him when he was 3 months old from the RSPCA at Wacol.

“He was a happy little puppy and didn’t mind at all that he only had three legs,” Rebecca said.

“However, a few months later we started to notice that he wasn’t walking well. He was limping, and seemed to be in pain.”

“Our local vet referred us to the referral surgical service at the UQ VETS Small Animal Hospital in Gatton, where it was explained that Ziggy had an angular limb deformity as a result of damage to the growth plates in his front leg.”

Senior lecturer in small animal surgery at the UQ School of Veterinary Science Dr Jayne McGhie said Ziggy’s owners had done the right thing in seeking veterinary advice.

Dr McGhie said that in all young animals like Ziggy, the bones grow from cartilage zones (growth plates) within the ends of the bone.  The cells within these plates can be damaged by any type of trauma.  In Ziggy’s case, the damage was likely due to the increased weight carried on his one front leg after his amputation.

Having the bones grow abnormally meant that Ziggy developed a bent and twisted front leg and this resulted in an inability to walk or run normally or without pain.



“We knew we needed to save Ziggy’s remaining front leg to give him a chance at a normal active life,” Dr McGhie said.

“Ziggy’s case is pretty unique and we knew management would be a challenge and the results disastrous for Ziggy if surgery did not go well.”

Ziggy underwent surgery in 2014 to stop the deformity in his leg from getting worse while he continued to grow.  A part of bone in his leg was removed and his front leg was splinted so the bone was supported to grow straight.

After the splint came off last year, Ziggy’s owners bought a semi-customised splint to protect his carpal joint (the joint at the top of his foot) from damage because of the abnormal way Ziggy walked.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland

Program: Bachelor of Veterinary Science
Location: Gatton, Queensland
Semester intake: February
Program duration: 5 years
Application deadline: UQ has a general application deadline of November 30 each year; however, candidates are encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

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